Today, the family at Mountain Hardwear mourns the death but celebrates the life of ski mountaineer and friend Kip Garre. Kip and his girlfriend, Allison Kreutzen, were buried on Tuesday in an avalanche in the eastern Sierra Mountains while attempting to climb and ski the Split Couloir on Split Mountain. Mountain Hardwear is saddened by the tragic news of Kip’s death, but finds some solace in the fact that Kip died pursuing his life-long passion of mountain adventure.
Close to home in the eastern Sierra, Garre and Kreutzen set out for a day trip to ski Split Mountain. It is speculated that the couple was climbing up the Split Couloir when an avalanche broke burying them from above. Kip understood, perhaps better than others, both the risks and the rewards that accompany extreme mountain sports. Last year, having witnessed the avalanche death of one of his closest friends Arne Backstrom in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca, Kip briefly considered giving up skiing in the big mountains entirely wondering if it was all worth it. Ultimately, Kip knew that he lived his life for the mountains and that their beauty and majesty would keep him coming back again and again.
“Kip was an inspiration to Mountain Hardwear in so many regards,” said Mountain Hardwear President Topher Gaylord. ”He dreamed big and deeply respected the power and awe of the mountains. He pursued his passions with energy, skill, confidence and commitment. Kip shared his love of his sports with all those he touched and created profoundly deep relationships everywhere he went. But what set him apart from all others was his humility, and that is what made him one of the most loved athletes in our industry.”
Fellow Mountain Hardwear athlete and ski mountaineer Andrew McLean remembers the Kip that we will never forget. “Within an hour of first meeting Kip, I would have felt comfortable going anywhere in the world with him, and I don’t think I was alone in that impression. He was a very likeable, talented, humble, confident and inspiring person. We seemed to share an almost identical wavelength that made skiing together especially fun. Standing at the top of a peak, we could map out a quick plan, with a minimum amount of words, and it’d always come off exactly as it was mumbled.”
“I’ll miss a lot of things about Kip,” continued McLean, “but mostly it’s his refined ability to chill out when needed and then get after it while the getting was good. On our first trip together, we went up to Alaska to ski the Sultana Ridge on Mt. Foraker. On summit day, Kip took the lead and punched out 5,000 feet of boot-packing without ever taking a break or losing his trademark smile. I’ll never forget that and I hope that his spirit lives on with all ski mountaineers, as I know it does with me.”
Mountain Hardwear is currently working to create a tribute to Kip that will reflect the passion and impact he had on the sport and the company. Our most sincere sympathies go out to friends and family of Kip and Allison in this time of grief and sorrow.